Does Roald Dahl use humor in the chapter "Goat's Tobacco" in Boy?  

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In the chapter “Goat's Tobacco” in Roald Dahl's Boy, the author uses plenty of humor in his characterization and in the irony of the plot. When the narrator is nine, his older half-sister gets engaged. Her fiance is an English doctor who smokes a pipe, and this engagement causes much disruption in the family. The younger siblings are upset because their sister and her fiance do everything alone. What’s more, the fiance smokes a pipe.

This pipe becomes a special cause of annoyance with Dahl and his siblings. The fiance puts on plenty of airs about pipe smoking, and the pipe is always between his teeth. He seems to think that he is especially sophisticated when he is smoking his pipe, but really he is more silly than anything else.

This is the reason for the prank Dahl and his whole family play on the sister’s fiance. The humor here is that Dahl puts the rather arrogant fiance firmly in his place and takes the man’s pride down a few notches with a pipe full of goat droppings. What is also very funny is that the whole family goes along with the prank and doesn’t say a thing. Even Dahl’s mother lets her future son-in-law smoke that pipe. This in itself tells us something about the fiance’s insufferable character.

The fiance has no idea what is really in his pipe when he comes back from his swim, but we readers know, and Dahl and his family know, and herein lies the delightful irony. The fiance goes on and on about the taste of tobacco and what a connoisseur he is until he smokes down to the goat droppings. Then he loses any dignity he ever thought he had. He yells and jumps and carries on, showing that he is hardly the sophisticated “manly lover” he has presented himself as.

Finally, there is a great deal of humor when the fiance finds out what he has actually been smoking. He is stunned and then angry, and Dahl takes off running. The prank, however, seems to have been very much worth the consequences.

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